Thursday, 27 April 2017

Russian GP Betting Preview - Migrate back to Mercedes?

May you live in interesting times. Such a phrase is usually said ironically; reckoned as it is to be a Chinese curse. But for the gambler interesting times can be a blessing.

By Липунов Г.А. - Own work, CC0, https://commons.
wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48625978
Of course there are many opportunities for online betting these days – there are a variety of sports you can take a punt on the outcome of, as well as online poker, real money casino sites and many other things. But you could make the case that right now it's the F1 fan who wants to put his money where their mouth is that has the most potential joy. F1 in 2017 is indeed living in interesting times – with a surprisingly competitive season featuring a surprisingly strong challenge from Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. And perhaps it all has increased the opportunities to make hay.

And conversely for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi taking place this weekend this all may have added to the value of backing Mercedes to bounce back; you can back Lewis Hamilton to bag the Sochi win at a relatively long even money.

There's a rationale behind it too. Unlike Bahrain last time out when Seb and Ferrari won for the second time this campaign, Sochi may be Merc territory. Tyre wear and degradation is traditionally low here, as are the ambient temperatures, which not only may take away some of Ferrari's tyre longevity trump card it may also give the red cars a problem getting their Pirellis 'into the zone'. And Merc might have won in Bahrain anyway without treading variously on its own tail.

Mercedes getting on pole is a safer bet; it's got all of them this year so far and with some comfort. Lewis can be backed at 11/17 for pole position in Russia.

The bigger question may be which Mercedes takes it and indeed the 'other' Merc of Valtteri Bottas got pole in Bahrain (albeit aided by a sub-standard Lewis lap). Bottas has a good record at this track – in each visit he's qualified third (in a Williams...) and might have got pole in 2014 without an error. With all of this, his odds to repeat his Bahrain feat by bagging pole in Russia at 7/2 look generous.

And if you fancy a safer punt on Valtteri, you can get 1/2 on him to finish in the top three this time. Given the above considerations, the general lay of 2017 competitiveness, as well as the way Kimi Raikkonen has been going lately, that's a minimum expectation for Valtteri with a trouble free run.

The Red Bulls have struggled to get the soft tyres to work this season as they don't have the downforce required to warm them up. But in Sochi it can avoid the soft and run the ultrasoft and supersoft if it prefers. In Bahrain the Bulls ran with the leaders until having to bolt the softs on – and you can back Daniel Ricciardo at 9/2 or Max Verstappen at 7/2 to finish on the podium in Russia.

Williams as intimated has a good record here – reflecting that 70% of the lap is at full throttle at the Grove car is strong in a straight line – and you can get 4/7 on Felipe Massa to finish in the top six. If you fancy a cheekier punt, then the other Williams of Lance Stroll can be backed to do the same at a whole 9/1.

New Motorsport Week article: Unpopular circuits consigned to Formula 1's history

Photo: Octane Photography
With the not-entirely popular Sochi visit for the latest Russian Grand Prix upon us this weekend, in my latest article for Motorsport Week I decide to do my good deed for the day/week/lifetime.

I assure the track that it's far from alone, and that a circuit having pariah status on the F1 itinerary is far from a new thing. Indeed I give a by no means exhaustive nor definitive rundown of some of the more unpopular circuits from F1 history.

Some cracking stories in there, if I'm allowed to comment on such things.

You can have a read via this link: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14442

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - McLaren Saved Formula 1 From A Honda Destruction

Thank you McLaren for vetoing a Red Bull Racing - Honda partnership a few seasons ago. IF not, we'd have had 6 GP2 cars (or worse!) racing in Formula 1. By the way, there's talk of Mercedes helping Honda with their power-unit. This is after Bernie Ecclestone suggested that Mercedes helped Ferrari. If that's the case, why not help Renault too? Or better, let's just give everyone Mercedes engines.

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal discuss Fernando Alonso's Indy 500 preparations, Ecclestone-Vettel's friendship, Lauda's support of every Hamilton challenger, Renault's 2030 F1 concept and IF Fernando Alonso will retire his McLaren-Honda in the upcoming Russian Grand Prix too.

Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 16)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sochi Preview: F1's ugly duckling

There's always one, isn't there? That F1 venue people find particularly hard to love. No new thing either. Nivelles, Detroit and others have had periodic pariah status historically. More recently it was Valencia. Then it was the Mokpo venue in Korea. Now, dear reader, I give you Sochi in Russia.

The Sochi venue in Russia has been hard for F1 to love
By Липунов Г.А. - Own work, CC0, https://commons.
wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48625966
It has ugly duckling status for a number of reasons. The race was in many eyes tainted at source, even though Bernie Ecclestone's attempts to get a Russian/USSR round onto the calendar stretched back literally decades. A Grand Prix in the Soviet Union to be held on the streets of Moscow appeared on the provisional F1 calendar as long ago as 1983 indeed and several mooted options came and went in the years that followed.

Yet even by the time the race finally was penned to debut in 2014 - around the buildings and circular medals plaza of that year's Winter Olympics venue of Sochi - plenty thought we could nevertheless wait a little longer. Its very existence was controversial from several months out with unrest in Ukraine and Russia's alleged contribution to it dominating many headlines. Some thought too resultant sanctions would mean the race's money would run out.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Bahrain Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Two out of three ain't bad

By Dave Jefferys - https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaffapix/
26252296810/in/album-72157664943710804/, CC BY-SA
2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
w/index.php?curid=48424119
It was just like the season. It was captivating. It took us around the houses. But in the end it came back to the chief theme of Sebastian Vettel vs. Lewis Hamilton.

After qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix it looked like it might be different. But come the race the already-established tete-a-tete was soon back on. And that was only the beginning of the parallels with previous rounds of the fledgling 2017 campaign.

While after vanquishing Lewis and Merc once again, for Seb and Ferrari as the old song goes two out of three ain't bad.

I give my take on it all in my review of the Sakhir action for Motor Verso. You can have a read here: http://www.motorverso.com/bahrain-gp-2017-review-two-three-aint-bad/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Discontinued Cars, by Select Car Leasing

Have you ever heard the phrase "they don't make them like they used to"? Well Select Car Leasing decided to run with that idea and create a piece surrounding some of the most unforgettable discontinued cars the automotive industry has ever seen.

In the infographic below they show you some of the best and worst cars to be discontinued, some that really did deserved to die and some that we miss awfully.

They also give you an insight into whether any of these iconic cars will ever return. You can take a look below.

Discontinued Cars
Discontinued Cars by SELECT CAR LEASING.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Hamilton Finally Picks A Penalty For Driving Slowly

Lewis Hamilton has used 'driving slow' as a tactic in the past. Yes, it was at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he won the race, but lost the Drivers' Championship to Nico Rosberg. However, at the epic 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton was penalised for driving slow ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. The karma of the Motorsport world coming to bite Hamilton back?

Mercedes were outclassed by Ferrari in every department, tyre strategy being the most evident one. In fact, Mercedes had lost out to Red Bull Racing too. The reigning World Champion need to sharpen themselves to fight external competition after years of intra-team battles. As for Ferrari, someone needs to remind them that they've a second car too!

After the first three races, it is appearing that positions 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 10th are already blocked for a few drivers. This means there's fewer positions to fight for in the top 10. But for McLaren-Honda, after being bored of DNFs, they decided to lodge a DNS!

Finally, we welcome Turkey and their Turn 8 back to Formula 1, let's hope they get onto the calendar soon enough. We would also like to welcome back Jenson Button for his one-off appearance for McLaren at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix. He's either bold or dumb to race in Monaco without any testing whatsoever. And of course, our best wishes and prayers to Billy Monger and his family. Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 15)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Firstpost Video - Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Here's the latest Firstpost Video Grand Prix Review. This time Mithila and Kunal from the Inside Line F1 Podcast review last weekend's excellent Bahrain race won by Sebastian Vettel. You can watch below:

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Bahrain GP Report - Returning to the theme

Come back to what you know, as the song went. F1 returned to already familiar themes in the Bahrain Grand Prix today. Valtteri Bottas's interloper performance to get pole position proved just that - again things distilled to the Sebastian Vettel versus Lewis Hamilton game for two players. And it was another thrilling one.

For the second time in three rounds, Sebastaian Vettel
and Ferrari got it right to win
Photo: Octane Photography
It was one of strategy, on the watch, not wheel-to-wheel. But no less gripping for that. And for the second time in three it was Ferrari and Seb that got it right to triumph. The Scuderia's calls were both aggressive and spot on - something that seemed a world away last season. Seb meanwhile was fast and immaculate in converting it all to a win under pressure. That bit is altogether less new.

There were echoes of previous rounds of the fledgling 2017 season everywhere in the Sakhir race. Just like round one in Australia, Vettel having been outpaced in qualifying looked the quickest thing in the race. Just as in Australia too - after vaulting Lewis at the first turn (something Seb aptly called "crucial"), later on the brakes - he apparently was happy to sit on the leading Mercedes's gearbox, this time that of Bottas, in the opening stint.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Why F1’s current driver line-up could be the best ever

Photo: Octane Photography
This new F1 clearly is very new. Not least that - in something that for most of recent times was about as likely as a Dodo flying past the paddock lavatories - there is a feel-good factor around. Particularly following the superb China race.

In my latest for Motorsport Week I join in on it all, by pointing out something that already was very good about the sport - its high quality line-up of drivers. It might even be the best the sport has ever had...

You can read my take on it all via this link: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14324

Sakhir Qualifying - Valtteri comes to the party

The story could have been achingly familiar. One in which thoughts of a challenge to the Mercedes were dashed. Just like happened at this track last year. And the year before. The Sakhir circuit is a place where Merc likes to snatch hope from its rivals - and of a few others - that it's about to be usurped.

In Bahrain qualifying Valtteri Bottas came to the party
Photo: Octane Photography
It did just that in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but the story even so was not familiar. As for the first time since his promotion to the Brackley squad Valtteri Bottas stepped up. And stepped up all the way to pole position. His first ever.

Our tantalising Mercedes vs. Ferrari scrap, new for 2017, has from many viewpoints been distilled to Lewis Hamilton vs. Sebastian Vettel. On the basis of the opening two rounds one had good reason to think that way. But, despite some appearances, F1 can never be said to be altogether predictable. And in today's qualifying session the embattled Finn, still new in the Merc squad, in the nick of time reminded us that we can't be necessarily quite so reductive.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

New F1 Hub article: Is this the return of ‘real’ F1 racing?

Photo: Octane Photography
Just as Harold Wilson said of politics, a week is a long time in F1. Or rather an hour and a half on a Sunday is.

Following however many years of impenetrable murk and despair, then a distinctly mixed bag in the first race of the new formula in Australia, with the second race of it, in China last weekend, suddenly it seems we all agree that all is right with the sport.

In my debut feature article for F1 Hub I look back at an excellent Chinese Grand Prix and wonder if, and why, F1 might at last have got it right when it comes to the racing.

You can have a read of my take here: http://www.f1hub.net/index.php/commentary/analysis-is-this-the-return-of-real-racing/12855/

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Bahrain GP Betting Preview - Flutter on Ferrari

F1 in 2017 has been a lot about Ferrari. It's of course had a strong start to the campaign - surprisingly so - and in China demonstrated it is the real deal in a real championship fight, by at least matching Mercedes on race pace at a track that in theory suited the silver team.

There are reasons to think Ferrari will be leading
Mercedes again in Bahrain
Photo: Octane Photography
Yet for the bookies old habits die hard it seems. They still have Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes as favourites to win out this weekend in Bahrain. But even over and above Ferrari's general form, as outlined in my race preview plenty about this one in Sakhir - hot temperatures, a premium on rear grip among many other things - could well mean it's Ferrari country. And you can get Sebastian Vettel to triumph in the race at a full 19/10. Tempting.

Despite all of this Mercedes, and especially Lewis Hamilton, has still had a qualifying talisman this year. Lewis to get his third pole from three in 2017 this weekend can be backed at evens.

And if you want to really follow through on your Lewis to start on pole/Seb to win the race theory, you can also get 5/2 on the Bahrain race winner starting second, and (if you have faith in Valtteri Bottas) 9/2 on the winner starting third.

Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen to get onto the podium in Bahrain looks good value at 6/5. Partly as the above considerations about Ferrari apply to him too, but also that Kimi has a good record at this track, and indeed has finished second in four of the last five Bahrain Grands Prix.

In terms of longer shot stuff, Felipe Massa to finish the race in the top three can be got at a stonking 70/1. This coming in would likely require some attrition ahead, but the Williams has looked strong on raw pace at least in 2017 (perhaps in Red Bull territory), the Sakhir track should suit the car plus Felipe is another who tends to go well here. The odds, given these, look generous.

Romain Grosjean at 6/1 to finish in the top six in Bahrain also looks a reasonable punt. He finished fifth here least year and the Haas has looked decent this season. Esteban Ocon is to do the same at 16/1 looks even more reasonable. Force India has a good Bahrain record, such as Sergio Perez finishing third in 2014.

All odds quoted in this article were accurate on the Oddschecker website at 2100 GMT on Wednesday 12 April 2017.

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Have Ferrari Forgotten Team Orders?

After the incredible Chinese Grand Prix, we wondered what most Ferrari fans would've wondered - why did Ferrari not ask Kimi Raikkonen to move over and let Sebastian Vettel pass? Could this strategic move have altered the race result? Did this 'no team order' strategy blunder cost Ferrari more than their tyre strategy for Vettel?

Frankly, we're happy that Ferrari let their drivers race. Yes, it's unusual, but it is something that Mercedes and Red Bull Racing have been doing since ages. Thank you, Ferrari. And since we're thanking people, thank you Max Verstappen for a fantastic charge up the grid.

The Chinese Grand Prix also confirmed two things: First, we're about to witness a closely contested season after many many many years! It'll be a Ferrari vs. Mercedes to start with and we're praying Red Bull Racing join the action too. Second, it'll be Vettel vs. Hamilton battle for the Drivers' Championship and Bottas vs. Raikkonen for the Constructors' Championship.

In this week's episode, our hosts look forward to the first double header racing weekend of the season. Yes, we'll be racing in Bahrain in a few days. Should Bernie Ecclestone buy Interlagos just to have some fun with the new boys running Formula 1? Could Fernando Alonso deflect to Williams in 2018? Bye-Bye Sepang and hello Nurburgring or Hockenheim? Okay, can we have both? Tune in!

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

(Season 2017, Episode 14)

Monday, 10 April 2017

Sakhir Preview: Ferrari the favourite?

Typical Tilke. It is a phrase that for better and worse has entered the modern F1 vocabulary, reflecting that over recent decades the architect Hermann of that ilk has been responsible almost exclusively for the sport's new and new-fangled circuits. And the Bahrain track that we visit this weekend embodies the phrase more than most.

Bahrain's Sakhir circuit is one of F1's
archetypal modern venues
By Dave Jefferys - https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaffapix/
26252296810/in/album-72157664943710804/, CC BY-SA
2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/
index.php?curid=48424119
Sakhir is indeed typical Tilke. Built from nothing on an open vast expanse (in this case, desert). All clean lines and gleaming architecture. And comes with a sense that every one of Bernie's numerous and haughty demands have been met.

Yet it has some of the typical Tilke flipside too. As with so many of these new circuits it represented a large geographical stride into a new world. Some agonise over the extent that F1's been turning its back on its core support, as well as over the motivations of its newer hosts. The Crown Prince of Bahrain has been known to justify the event more in terms of 'national branding' than sport. While as we know this particular round has had controversy attached for more weighty reasons still.

Chinese Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Quality Street

Photo: Octane Photography
You know what they say about not judging a book by its cover. The result of the Chinese Grand Prix may have looked achingly familiar, like a return to normality, but it doesn't begin to tell the tale.

The tale instead is all about quality. Our high quality drivers' title fight does appear on China's evidence to be well and truly on. More broadly too after our post-Melbourne panic the sport might just, somehow, have got the quality of the racing right at last. The quality of the contemporary driver line up was already beyond question, and we saw plenty renewed evidence of that in Shanghai too.

I give my take on all of the goings on in China in my latest Motor Verso race review. You can read it here: http://www.motorverso.com/chinese-gp-2017-review-quality-street/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Mithila and Kunal from Inside Line F1 Podcast review the Chinese Grand Prix on Firstpost

As mentioned, Mithila and Kunal from the Inside Line F1 Podcasts we share on Talking about F1 have started to feature in videos on Firstpost, a leading news website in India, reviewing latest F1 goings-on.

And hot off the press is their review of today's thrilling Chinese Grand Prix. You can watch that latest episode of Firstpost Pole Position below:


Chinese GP Report - Chinese new year

It may look regulation. Lewis Hamilton today claimed victory in the Chinese Grand Prix. His fifth at this track and Mercedes's fourth in a row here. It was a 'Grand Slam' for Lewis too - pole, win and leading every lap. But that's only the beginning of the tale - both of the race and of the new F1 we appear to have stretching ahead this season. It's an appropriate place to pay homage to a new year.

Lewis Hamilton took his fifth Chinese Grand Prix win
Photo: Octane Photography
The anticipated rain deluge didn't arrive for the Shanghai race but we did start on a damp track. Yet as early as the warm up lap it was clear that the intermediate tyres almost all were starting on wouldn't be needed for long. The track looked pretty much dry aside from on the pit straight, although it was deceptively perfidious as early slick switchers had problems staying on the straight and narrow.

The anticipated Lewis versus Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari battle at the front didn't really happen either. After Lewis led from the line the pair were decoupled early when Seb - alone among the leaders - dived in for dry weather tyres on lap two under an early virtual safety car deployment.

It looked briefly a masterstroke as Seb emerged with only a 17 second deficit to Lewis and all ahead - including Lewis of course - still were on inters and clearly required their own imminent change. However no sooner had this became clear Antonio Giovinazzi for the second time in two days changed things all around him (in more than one sense) by rearranging his Sauber on a pit straight wall. This brought out the safety car proper, which let Lewis pit and retain his lead, as well as all the other five ahead of Seb to also bolt on slicks and also stay ahead of the Ferrari. It left the German in a net as well as actual sixth place. The day, in this sense, was already framed.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Shanghai Qualifying - Significance below the surface

You might think you've seen this one before. But such thoughts can be deceptive. Sometimes the continuations can be just as significant as the variations. Perhaps more so.

Lewis Hamilton was magnificent in getting another pole
Photo: Octane Photography
On one level you could copy and paste most of what happened in the first qualifying session of the season, in Melbourne two weeks ago, and adequately cover quali hour number two in Shanghai today.

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix by a couple of tenths, a lot like he did in Australia. This is significant enough in itself, not least as it's his sixth pole position on the bounce, a run only bettered in history by Ayrton Senna, as well as is the sixth straight pole at this track for Mercedes and Lewis's sixth overall here.

Yet greater significance herein is that while Lewis has had access to fine Mercedes machinery in recent times today's pole felt a lot like it was about him. His vital laps at the end were super smooth and ultra fast. And his personal contribution made the difference.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Max Verstappen Doesn't Know Heel-Toe?

The fortnight gap between Australia and China does seem a little too long. But here we are! In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal talk about the Ferrari vs. Mercedes battle that will resume at the Shanghai International Circuit. Will Ferrari's pace be further validated or will it prove that Australia was a flash in the pan?

Our hosts also discuss how and why Max Verstappen doesn't know of the ever-popular heel-toe concept that's used in racing ever since. Is it because the junior formula cars have moved to Formula 1-style paddle shift cars too?

Like always, we've got a few funny ones on McLaren, we decode the typical April Fool's jokes that were cracked on April Fool's Day, of course, we pick our favourite too. Hamilton's chosen to go solo for his physical training, while he's caught up with Alonso as the sport's 'most popular' driver in a survey - haven't the Dutch fans out-voted every other driver to give their favourite Max Verstappen in honour? Tune in for a few laughs and few insights as we excitedly wait for the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix.

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

(Season 2017, Episode 13)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Chinese GP Betting Preview - Mercedes reign and Shanghai rain?

So, on the basis of Melbourne, we do have unpredictability in F1 after all. Which of course makes it much more fun, and more opportune perhaps, for the F1 gambler.

Is there value in backing a Mercedes bounce back?
Photo: Octane Photography
Hopefully you listened to my suggestion to get Sebastian Vettel for the Australian win at 7/2, as well as that Lewis Hamilton was more likely to be on top in qualifying and was available at 6/5 for the pole (admittedly I mentioned several other bets as well, but that's beside the point...)

Conversely though the shock Ferrari-Vettel triumph may tempt us to go full circle back to the usually haughty Mercedes for round two in China this weekend. As Australia's goings-on mean the Merc odds are longer than usual.

Think of it this way. Ferrari's Australian triumph might have been a one off. After all many think it goes peculiarly well at that track plus Mercedes might still have won with better strategy, or with Valtteri Bottas qualifying slightly quicker. And there may not be a better time to get value on the Silver Arrows.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Shanghai Preview: Big in China

Much about the Chinese Grand Prix visit feels big. Of all the typical Tilke venues to arrive in recent times this one still sets the standards for dimensions if nothing else. The gleaming futuristic architecture towers and stretches; the facilities' sparse siting makes you wonder if someone worried that the various buildings would have an argument with each other. Paddock occupants are sure they walk far further in the Shanghai weekend than in any other.

Much about the Chinese Grand Prix is big
By Drew - Starting Grid F1 Shanghai, CC BY 2.0, https://
commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10073954
Even the race's genesis is big. All geopolitics - it is a Government-backed Grand Prix in a country that might be termed a coming economy; a round that arrived in 2004 to a country while curious about the event also was almost completely uninitiated (to those more historically-minded, it shared a lot with Hungary's arrival in 1986). Then as now it appears more motivated by national promotion than of making a successful event per se.

Many of the typical Tilke track layout characteristics will be familiar too. A bit-of-everything layout; quick, medium and slow corners feature. A long straight - underlining the theme of vastness China's is reckoned to be about the longest in the sport - and a big stop at the end created with overtaking in mind. A trademark Tilke fast esses part elsewhere.